Struggling Rangers start home-and-home against Capitals

The New York Rangers begin a crucial home-and-home series against the Washington Capitals starting on the road.

Saturday’s contest sees the Blueshirts losers of three straight (0-2-1) and facing some serious adversity. Aside from their issues defensively, which are numerous, Mika Zibanejad was a late scratch due to illness. The Rangers recalled forward Anton Blidh from the Hartford Wolf Pack, just in case their best two-center can’t play.

“I think it’s always good for a team to face some adversity,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “Mika going out, and different things that happen. When it’s not always going your way, isn’t a bad thing to go through. A little adversity in the middle of the year is not the worst thing.”

Blidh, 28, has scored four goals and five assists for nine points in 29 AHL games this season.

Meanwhile, Kaapo Kakko was a full participant at practice on Wednesday, but there’s no timetable for his return. However, with the lineup concerns, it is possible that he may be inserted in one of these two games.

Here’s tonight’s game and broadcast info:

New York Rangers (26-12-2) vs Washington Capitals (19-14-6)
Date/Time: January 13, 2024 @ 1:00 PM ET
Arena: Capital One Arena
TV: ABC
Radio: ESPN 98.7 FM

Note: Subject to change, updated for each game

Related: Looking at the Rangers midseason slump

New York Rangers projected lineup

NHL: New York Rangers at Washington Capitals
Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

The Blueshirts lineup is in a state of flux with Anton Blidh called up just in case Mika Zibanejad can’t play. Forward Tyler Pitlick is week-to-week with a lower-body issue, but has begun skating on his own.

Kreider- Zibanejad – Cuylle
Panarin – Trocheck – Lafreniere
Vesey – Goodrow – Wheeler
Bonino – Leschyshyn – Brodzinski

Lindgren – Fox
Miller – Trouba
Gustafsson – Schneider

Quick
Shesterkin

Note: Head coach Peter Laviolette will address the media at 10:40 a.m. ET. Check back here for any updates.

Update: Jonathan Quick to start, Mika Zibanejad is a game-time decision.

New York Rangers vs Washington Capitals

The Rangers slide maybe glaring with three straight losses for the first time this season, but this rough patch began in early December. Over their last 17 games, the team is 8-8-1.

“I know what this team is capable of,” Vincent Trocheck explained. “It’s just some adversity we’re going to have to get through. Hopefully, this is something we look back on and say it was a positive.”

Although the team is struggling defensively, they are generating shots. In the three losses, New York has registered over 40 shots each game (132 shots in total). The chances have been there, but opposing goalies Sam Montebault (MTL), Thatcher Demko (VAN), and Jordan Binnington (STL) have all come up big.

The Rangers and Capitals will conclude their season series this weekend. They have split the previous two matches (4-0 Caps 12/9 and 5-1 NYR 12/27).

Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore